Andre 'Mr. Rhythm' Williams is a perfect study in the mysterious, multi-faceted power of music. Throughout his 50+ year career as a performer, songwriter, and producer he has seen how music can define the individual, how music is widely perceived, how it can alter a soul for better or worse, and now how it can simply be used to describe things you just don't understand--the overriding theme of this release.
On February 28, a year and a half following his last Bloodshot Records full-length album, That's All I Need, Andre Williams returns with Hoods and Shades, perhaps his most intriguing, feel-oriented, thematically driven effort yet. As the story goes: during the summer of 2010, Andre was invited to appear at Don Was' Concert of Colors in Detroit alongside Mavis Staples and a diverse roster of world, classical, and pop/rock acts. Ever the one to seize an opportunity, Andre both brought down the house at the Concert and got together with his 'Detroit boys' the next day to record, as he called it, 'the Andre Williams folk album.' Hoods and Shades is the result, nine songs created by music roadmen led by THE music roadman. Making contributions are: renowned Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was on upright bass, Motown legend/Funk Brother Dennis Coffey on acoustic and electric guitars, Dirty Three drummer Jim White, Greasy Carlisi (Robert Gordon, Chris Spedding) and Jim Diamond (Dirtbombs) on electric bass, and longtime producer Matthew Smith (Nathaniel Mayer, Outrageous Cherry, Volebeats).
The album plays out like an afternoon hangout among music peers, speaking of experiences through their instruments, dynamic stylings, and overall touch.
Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams is a R&B legend, and you may not even know it. He wrote "Shake A Tail Feather," and sang such uber-raunch cult classics as "Bacon Fat" (covered by the Cramps), "Greasy Chicken," and the epitome of songs about little girls, "Jail Bait." He worked at seminal labels such as Motown, Chess, and Fortune. He wrote songs for, or produced folks Ike Turner, Parliament/Funkadelic, Edwin Starr and Stevie Wonder. The guy is like music's version of Zelig; he's been everywhere, man. Yeah, baby.
After a few hard years in... er... retirement, he stormed back in the late 90's with a record of smutty garage punk called Silky recorded with members of the Demolition Doll Rods and the Dirtbombs. Since then he has recorded with the Sadies, Jon Spencer, The New Orleans Hellhounds, Two-Star Tabernacle (which included a very young Jack White) and many others. His resurgence of popularity (and notoriety) continues as he tours the world, bringing his singular, yet chameleon-like style to a whole new world of unsuspecting admirers.
He was the subject of a documentary, Agile, Mobile, Hostile that premiered at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival. Andre tells it like it is, and if you get all bashful and shit with the blue language, you might want to steer clear--this guy can make Redd Foxx (who gave him his nickname, by the way) look like Bill Cosby. Don't let the shtick fool you, though, the man has put together some of the most bad-ass soul shakers in the history of music. He strips away all the bells and whistles and shoots musical arrows right to your goodie spot. Music at its most feral.
Also, Andre's shows generally feature at least one costume change. That can't be said about a lot of folks these days.